Using Auxiliary Sources of Knowledge for Automatic Speech Recognition

Standard hidden Markov model (HMM) based automatic speech recognition (ASR) systems usually use cepstral features as acoustic observation and phonemes as subword units. Speech signal exhibits wide range of variability such as, due to environmental variation, speaker variation. This leads to different kinds of mismatch, such as, mismatch between acoustic features and acoustic models or mismatch between acoustic features and pronunciation models (given the acoustic models). The main focus of this work is on integrating auxiliary knowledge sources into standard ASR systems so as to make the acoustic models more robust to the variabilities in the speech signal. We refer to the sources of knowledge that are able to provide additional information about the sources of variability as auxiliary sources of knowledge. The auxiliary knowledge sources that have been primarily investigated in the present work are auxiliary features and auxiliary subword units. Auxiliary features are secondary source of information that are outside of the standard cepstral features. They can be estimation from the speech signal (e.g., pitch frequency, short-term energy and rate-of-speech), or additional measurements (e.g., articulator positions or visual information). They are correlated to the standard acoustic features, and thus can aid in estimating better acoustic models, which would be more robust to variabilities present in the speech signal. The auxiliary features that have been investigated are pitch frequency, short-term energy and rate-of-speech. These features can be modelled in standard ASR either by concatenating them to the standard acoustic feature vectors or by using them to condition the emission distribution (as done in gender-based acoustic modelling). We have studied these two approaches within the framework of hybrid HMM/artificial neural networks based ASR, dynamic Bayesian network based ASR and TANDEM system on different ASR tasks. Our studies show that by modelling auxiliary features along with standard acoustic features the performance of the ASR system can be improved in both clean and noisy conditions. We have also proposed an approach to evaluate the adequacy of the baseform pronunciation model of words. This approach allows us to compare between different acoustic models as well as to extract pronunciation variants. Through the proposed approach to evaluate baseform pronunciation model, we show that the matching and discriminative properties of single baseform pronunciation can be improved by integrating auxiliary knowledge sources in standard ASR. Standard ASR systems use usually phonemes as the subword units in a Markov chain to model words. In the present thesis, we also study a system where word models are described by two parallel chains of subword units: one for phonemes and the other are for graphemes (phoneme-grapheme based ASR). Models for both types of subword units are jointly learned using maximum likelihood training. During recognition, decoding is performed using either or both of the subword unit chains. In doing so, we thus have used graphemes as auxiliary subword units. The main advantage of using graphemes is that the word models can be defined easily using the orthographic transcription, thus being relatively noise free as compared to word models based upon phoneme units. At the same time, there are drawbacks to using graphemes as subword units, since there is a weak correspondence between the grapheme and the phoneme in languages such as English. Experimental studies conducted for American English on different ASR tasks have shown that the proposed phoneme-grapheme based ASR system can perform better than the standard ASR system that uses only phonemes as its subword units. Furthermore, while modelling context-dependent graphemes (similar to context-dependent phonemes), we observed that context-dependent graphemes behave like phonemes. ASR studies conducted on different tasks showed that by modelling context-dependent graphemes only (without any phonetic information) performance competitive to the state-of-the-art context-dependent phoneme-based ASR system can be obtained.

Lausanne, Switzerland, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Computer Science Department
thesis \#3263 (IDIAP-RR 05-90)

 Record created 2006-03-10, last modified 2018-03-17

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